Edinburgh

[mp_row]

[mp_span col=”12″]

We spent three nights in Edinburgh, but if you are fast travelers, you could easily do two full days. Since this was the start of our trip, it was nice to have an extra day to relax. To save money on our flight, we actually flew into Glasgow and took a train to Edinburgh. Google flights is a great tool to use to find opportunities to lower your flight cost. Here are the highlights of our trip!

[/mp_span]

[/mp_row]

[mp_row]

[mp_span col=”12″]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Hotel: Fraser Suites

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_image id=”1218″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”#” target=”false” caption=”false” align=”left”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

This hotel was right on the Royal Mile, making it an ideal location for sight seeing. Plus, it’s about a 10 minute walk from the train station so we didn’t need to take a taxi to our hotel.

Cost: including tax was $126 a night. This might be because it was during the off-season, but it was so spacious and clean! It included a living area with a couch and chair, large bathroom, small kitchen setup (without a stove) and a decent gym! I would definitely recommend staying here.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Stroll & Shop the Royal Mile

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_text]

This strip is in the heart of Old Town and filled with restaurants, bars and shopping. We also paid for a short tour at Gladstone’s Land, a 17th century merchant’s residence.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Edinburgh Castle

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_image id=”1229″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”#” target=”false” caption=”false” align=”left”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

It cost about $21 a person to enter, but if offers great views and history of the city. You’ll be able to see the crown jewels, great hall, one of the largest cannons used in Europe and receive a free Scotch whiskey tasting! This was a short walk from our hotel.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[/mp_span]

[/mp_row]

[mp_row]

[mp_span col=”12″]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Palace of Holyroodhouse

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_image id=”1227″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”#” target=”false” caption=”false” align=”left”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

This palace was the residence of the King and Queen of Scotland starting in the 16th century. They still use this palace for entertaining. We enjoyed strolling through the royal apartments, chambers, great hall and more. The gardens were unfortunately not open during our visit.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Hike Up to Calton Hill

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_image id=”1226″ size=”full” link_type=”custom_url” link=”#” target=”false” caption=”false” align=”left”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

Along with Arthur’s seat, these two short hikes offer some of the best views of the city. It’s opposite of the Edinburgh castle. We walked up here in the morning then headed straight to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Stroll Down Victoria Street

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_grid_gallery ids=”1228,1224,1225″ columns=”3″ size=”thumbnail” link_type=”lightbox” target=”false” caption=”false”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_text]

Especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, you will love this cute street! It’s filled with shops and restaurants, but I enjoyed the bright buildings. Since J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh during the time she was writing the first few books of Harry Potter, she used this street as inspiration for Diagon Alley. As you walk from the bottom of the street, it slightly curves up as you walk up. It also has a joke shop!

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Other good sights to see

National Museum of Scotland

St Giles’ Cathedral

Dean Village – this is a beautiful place to walk around!

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Memorable Meals

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_text]

La Locanda – this is located right off the Royal Mile. It’s a great family owned Italian restaurant and they served up the best lasagna I have ever eaten.

The Elephant House – great coffee and desserts. We split a salted caramel brownie (twice!). This is the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few books of Harry Potter. It’s a cute cafe with a great view of the Edinburgh castle from the back room!

Wildfire – a  Scottish steakhouse. Be sure to make a reservation. It’s a small restaurant and located in the New Town, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

The Devil’s Advocate – we enjoyed a great cocktail here. It’s tucked back in an alley off the Royal Mile, but the bartenders dress in fancy aprons and you feel like a local.

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[/mp_span]

[/mp_row]

The Secret to Success With Diet and Exercise

My Biggest Secret To Success with Diet & Exercise

The Secret to Success With Diet and ExerciseOver the course of my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of people looking to improve their diet or stick to an exercise plan. It’s hard for anyone to truly make a change, especially if they have years or decades of less than stellar habits. I’ve written about my own journey here.

So, what’s the secret for actually making a lifestyle last…well…forever?

Make your meals satisfying and enjoy what you’re doing for an exercise program. 

For diet: If you are cooking healthy meals that you don’t enjoy, your journey at cooking healthy will be short lived. The common American comfort foods are popular for a reason – they’re satisfying and they keep us wanting to come back for more! So, how can you make your home cooked meals or healthy meal dining out satisfying?

  • Add fat for flavor. Fats tend to get bad press. Remember in the early 90’s when everything needed to be low fat? All fats are not bad fats. My go-to fat choices are olive oil, ghee, coconut oil or even butter. I rarely eat vegetables raw or steamed because I simply don’t like them as much (except carrots, leafy greens & steamed green beans because they are enjoyable). I roast or sauté almost all of my vegetables with my choice of fat. This is what keeps me eating vegetables every single day. My current top four veggies choices: sautéed zucchini noodles (garlic powder, salt, pepper in ghee), sautéed mushrooms (with minced garlic, salt, pepper in ghee), roasted sweet potatoes (chili powder, salt, pepper in olive oil), roasted Brussels sprouts (garlic powder, salt, pepper, in olive oil).
  • Find healthy snacks you love. Every week, I buy a container of fresh almond butter from my local PCC grocery store. It’s expensive but it’s a 10 on a satisfaction level and it helps me from wanting to eat sugar. Sometimes I eat it on celery, while most times, I get out my tablespoon and a tiny spoon to eat it with. I eat two TBs slowly and savor. Other things I enjoy: roasted nuts, Pink lady apples, whole carrots, bell peppers, a plain rice cake with almond butter + fruit spread or my Trader Joe nitrite-free ham. All great healthy choices, but most of all, they tame my sugar cravings because I find all these snacks very satisfying.
  • Choose a variety of protein choices. Yes, there are many benefits to white fish, chicken breast or 99% ground turkey. I have many go-to meals where those choices are delicious, but I don’t eat them 24/7. Egg whites also fall into this category. I incorporate eggs, chicken thighs, pulled pork or steaks a few times in my weekly meals. Since they have more flavor because of the slightly higher fat level, they keep me on track instead of wanting to get takeout Thai, pizza or burgers. Plus, it’s a nice balance between the leaner choices I make throughout the week. Example: A few meals a week for breakfast I’ll make two fried eggs, I’ll choose the carnitas at the Whole Foods buffet for lunch and for the past month, I’ve been roasting chicken thighs for one meal a week. Since my satisfaction level is so high with these meals, I don’t find myself with sugar cravings afterwards or wishing I had gone out for pizza instead.

Bottom line: I prefer to make the healthy choices over my favorite comfort foods because I learned how to make them really satisfying. I still love going out for pizza, but I no longer want it as much as I used to.

For exercise: Ask yourself if you look forward to your next workout? If exercise feels like a chore, you might not have found what you like yet. I realize there are some people who simply don’t like exercising, but there has to be a reason to keep them doing it every week. Do they like the increased energy? Do they like how it relieves stress? Do they like how their clothes fit? Do they enjoy the personal satisfaction of completing a workout? Regardless, there needs to find a deep reason for exercising every week, otherwise it won’t truly stick as a lifestyle. Here are some my go-to workout choices and the reasoning behind it.

  1. Walking. I walk at least 30 minutes every day. For me, I have to move daily to release the small stressors in life that build up. Walking allows me to clear my head, resets my intentions and truly makes me feel better. I also like the personal satisfaction of hitting my step goal of 10,000+ steps. Lastly, it’s an opportunity to spend time with my dog. He loves his walks and when he is happy, I’m happy.
  2. Strength Training. I commit to three full body workouts a week. I try to stick to the same days every week for the habit (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday). These are usually my favorite days of the week for exercise. Lifting weights makes me feel strong physically and mentally, plus I like the challenge of trying new movements. I switch my strength program every four weeks to prevent boredom, but also to keep my body from adapting to my program.
  3. High Intensity Intervals. Again, I try to stick to specific days of the week for the habit. I take a boxing class every Thursday morning. Nothing feels better than hitting and kicking the crap out of a punching bag. I also enjoy incline walking. Recently, I’ve set the goal of trying to climb 2,000 feet in less than 30 minutes. It’s my latest challenge! I also love completing sprint intervals. All three of these workouts leave me feeling happier after ever session.

Bottom line: if you haven’t found something you like to do for exercise, be open minded and try new things. Maybe you’ll learn you love to exercise in a group setting or in the comfort of your own home.

If you are currently working on building lasting healthy habits, pay attention to what may cause you to fall off track. Are you not enjoying your workouts? Are your meals satisfying? After years of practice and learning, I’ve finally found what works for me. Don’t give up on your journey. The more your work it, the easier it gets! Remember, you don’t want to strive to be perfect. 80-90% compliance gets great results and truly helps a habit stick forever.

Five Exercises to Do With a Step Box or Bench

 

Plyo boxes, weight benches or aerobic step boxes are great pieces of equipment to use for strength training. You don’t always have to go to the gym to use this type of equipment. You can get creative with what you have at home or invest in a box or bench for a home gym.

Here are some exercises I incorporate into my strength training every week:

 

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Step Ups (8-10 reps each side, 3 sets)

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_video src=”https://youtu.be/82yvu3jHYC4″]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

  • You can hold a weight at each side or hold a heavier weight in front of your body. Both challenge your body in different ways.
  • Focus on making sure you feel the exercise in the leg that steps to the box first. As you can see in the video, my left foot steps on the box first. I should feel all the work in my left glute and entire left leg.
  • If you feel any knee pain, check your position. You should see a 90 degree angle with your knee stacking over your ankle. Sometimes it helps if your knee stays slightly behind the ankle too. 
  • Brace your core and don’t use momentum to get to the top of the box. Simply step to it. If you find yourself forcing yourself up, the weight is too heavy. 

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Step Up + Reverse Lunge

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_video src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXb75YvpFQ8″]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

  • This is a nice combo to tax the glutes and legs even more. 
  • When you step up, drive the entire foot into the step box. As you step back into a reverse lunge, push the entire front foot into the floor, making sure you feel your glute work. 
  • Don’t forget your 90 degree angles for both exercises. 

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Hip Thrust (10-15 reps, 3 sets)

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_video src=”https://youtu.be/VXHTUlyTLjE”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

This is my favorite exercise to do right now. It’s great at targeting your glutes!

  • Find the right size box for you. The benches don’t work for me because I’m too short, but an aerobics box with 4 risers works or this plyo box in the video. The box should hit you just under your shoulder blades. 
  • Tuck you feet under your knees and keep your shins vertical as you drive up the weight.
  • As you drive the weight up, keep your chin tucked and eyes forward. Don’t look up towards the ceiling. 
  • Squeeze your glutes hard at the top. Your knees should slightly push out to make sure your glutes are turned on. 

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Elevated Glute Bridge (with or without weight) 20 reps, 3 sets

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_video src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jwTWu5JxIo”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_heading]

I have been doing this at the end of my strength workouts lately. It’s a great finisher!

  • Drive through your heels to make sure your glutes are working. Squeeze hard at the top. 
  • If you feel more in your hamstrings, check your foot position. Your knees should stack mostly over your hips. 
  • For more of a challenge, use a mini band for this exercise. Place above your knees. 

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”12″]

[mp_heading]

Box Jumps (5-8 reps, 2-3 sets)

[/mp_heading]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]

[mp_row_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_video src=”https://youtu.be/XeH82GW3I6w”]

[/mp_span_inner]

[mp_span_inner col=”6″]

[mp_text]

  • This is a great explosive exercise for advanced lifters. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with joint issues or new to an exercise program. 
  • Complete this after a thorough warm up. I don’t recommend doing this after or during your strength exercises. 
  • Land soft on the box. Imagine you can’t make a sound as you land on the box. 
  • Stand all the way up to finish the exercise. Once you land on the box, stand all the way. I see many people jump right back down after landing. 

[/mp_text]

[/mp_span_inner]

[/mp_row_inner]